Saturday, April 16, 2011

Treatment Update

Hi's a busy Saturday here in Raleigh and we're expecting some strong storms this afternoon.  I know many of you have been praying for my visit to MD Anderson to go well so thanks(!) for your support.  I traveled to Houston on Wednesday and spent most of Thursday in the clinic - about half my time focused on my current treatment and the other half focused on getting preparatory tests done for the stem cell transplant (which remains a "back-up" plan in case it is needed). 

The news on my treatment was good.  While my marrow still contains leukemic cells, comparing to the original bone marrow biopsy I had a year ago, something like 40% of the cancerous cells are gone, and something like 60% remain.  So the good news there is that the treatment is having an effect on the cancer in my bone marrow, as well as on my overall blood counts, which remain at near normal levels.  We would have liked to have seen a bigger impact, but we did not expect (speaking purely medically) that the cancer would be gone in 3 treatments - the nominal duration of the treatments is 6 cycles.  So, I will continue being treated and Dr. Keating wants me to go through the next 3 cycles and then have another marrow biopsy.  The definition of remission is that all cancerous cells in the marrow have to be gone, so that's what we will be praying for.  I will start cycle 4 on Monday, assuming my counts are OK that day.

Regardless of how much of the cancer the treatment eliminates, Dr. Keating continues to develop new treatments, and in fact has several 17p patients with stubborn disease that he has stabilized with a new family of oral drugs that are called "T-cell inhibitors".  He's very excited about these developments.

The GREAT news that I got on Thursday is that my sister Laure is a PERFECT stem cell donor match for me.  There are 14 "tests" for matching and we matched on all 14 points - so this is a GREAT answer to prayer and we are all just thrilled about it.  If I ever need a transplant, this puts me in the best possible position.  Woo Hoo!  Praise God!!

Your support, prayers, notes, and cards are deeply appreciated.  Love - Dan and Fam  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Masters Week Update

On the Veranda at Two Meeting Street Inn

Greetings friends, I see that it has been 2 weeks since my last medical news is very good.  After the 3rd cycle of chemo which was March 14-16, I had a checkup on March 28, and Dr. Kritz, my local oncologist, pronounced my overall response to the treatments to be "great".  My team in Houston is also very pleased.  My counts are normal again, and I feel great most of the time - although yesterday, I came down with a fever.  Standard protocol for chemo patients who get a fever over 100 is to go get their counts checked to see if they are neutropenic, i.e., a very low neutrophil count.....unfortunately the only place I could get a blood count after  hours yesterday was an emergency room.  We were in at 7:15 pm and out at 10:30 neutrophils were strong, so my body will fight off whatever infection I have.  My fever is down today so we're expecting this to run its course in a day or two.

Renee and I spent 3 wonderful days in Charleston, SC for our 25th anniversary - the weather was not great, but we didn't let that stop us from walking around the old neighborhoods, taking some historic home tours, a carriage ride through the town, and eating some great local seafood.  We stayed at the historic and gorgeous 2 Meeting Street Inn, right down on the battery.  I am blessed in many ways, but after my relationship with the Lord, my marriage to Renee is the greatest blessing in my life.  We are so thankful for God's plan for marriage and family.  Here are some pics from the trip (you will see that I "snuck" out early for a little redfish action):

Renee on the Front Steps

10 lb Anniversary Redfish!!
  As indicated above, it is Masters week, and the Masters is probably my favorite sporting event of the year, so I will be in front of the tube for that - I will also be a guest at my niece-in-law's 4th grade class on Friday - Amanda Palmer Moore, Renee's brother's daughter, asked me to come to her class to talk about the solar system, so I have been working on that little project.  I may post pics!  The 'next big thing' is my trip to Houston next week for my mid-treatment progress check, complete with bone marrow aspiration and full analysis of what my marrow is doing/producing at a molecular/genetic level....It's a one day visit to the clinic, so Renee is not going to come with me (she would have if I had asked, of course), as we don't think this visit has much risk and stress in it, compared to my other 2 trips to Houston.  I leave on Wednesday the 13th and my appointments are on the 14th.  Of course we are praying for a great report there and I will keep you posted.  I hope all is well with you, and please let Renee and I know how we can pray for you - many of you are already on our prayer list, and we would love to add anyone who needs prayer support.  Dan and Renee